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New Proof that Coca-Cola Buys Andean Coca Leaves

January 28, 2005
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Acting Publisher Luis A. Gómez weighs in today on a statement just released by Peru's drug control agency, the National Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (shortened in Spanish to DEVIDA). The document supports, although timidly, the industrialization of the coca leaf in Peru, a long-sought goal by many in that country as a way to both legitimize this ancient, sacred plant, and to boost the Peruvian economy. Gómez reports that this is an about-face for DEVIDA President Nils Ericsson, who in previous statements and one particularly harsh (and strange) newspaper editorial, had opposed and dismissed the idea of industrial uses for coca. He cites problems with coca production which are in fact the result of the harsh eradication programs he promotes.

Gómez writes:

"'For the manufacture of other products,' [writes Ericsson], 'beyond quality issues, the coca leaf is enormously expensive, prohibitively so.' He was probably referring to the fact that, as eradication efforts have increased, the price of coca has risen in the last few months... by 500 percent, in fact, from 80 cents to four dollars for one kilo of dried coca leaf, as Ericsson himself explained last January 7."

The DEVIDA statement contains another bombshell: confirmation that the Coca Cola Company, despite repeated denials, does in fact buy coca leaves from both Peru and Bolivia. While small farmers, and even local Peruvian companies trying to incorporate coca leaves into drinks and other products, face constant state harassment and repression, one of the biggest corporations in the world is buying tons of coca, using it in their drinks and lying about it to the world – getting ever-richer off the sacred plant of the Andes, while the people who grow and maintain it suffer for their labor.

Gómez writes, of the DEVIDA document:

"The good part comes in that same point #5. The end of the paragraph reads: 'Coca Cola, the globally recognized soft drink manufacturer, buys 115 tonnes of coca leaf from Peru and 105 tonnes from Bolivia per year, with which it produces, without alkaloids, 500 million bottles of soda per day.' You read correctly, kind readers, Coca Cola buys coca leaves. We have said so ourselves in past reports, and the Peruvian government says the same thing now. And so now we are sure that the 'spark of life' ('La Chispa de la Vida' is Coke's Spanish-language slogan) has coca – in at least 500 million bottles a day. And that process that Nils Ericsson has told us about helped the company earn 13.3 billion dollars in net profit last year, according to their own financial reports.

"In December of 2002, the transnational corporation's Mexican representative, Adriana Valladares, resolutely claimed that 'Coca Cola does not buy coca leaves.' And for her part, Coca Cola spokesperson Karyn Dest, interviewed by the Mexican daily El Universal, 'said via telephone from Atlanta that the company does not use cocaine and that it has never been part of the drink's ingredients...' Well, no, not cocaine, but coca leaves, yes. And, to make sure, I just served myself a glass of soda... but I don't feel anything. Do you? So, what is The Coca Cola Company hiding? The have 'cleaned' the alkaloids from their coca leaves, so why do they lie about buying coca from Peru?"

Read the full report:

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder Managing Editor, Narco News

© Scoop Media

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